You are going to go knots with this Parmesan Garlic Knots Bread. Soft, warm bread with subtle garlic flavor and nice sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
There is nothing like a freshly baked bread, even more on a weekend. Before I started making my own bread, the only chance that I could have a freshly baked bread is when I go the baker super early. I believe bakers starts baking as early as 2:00 – 4:00 am to get the bread in time for 6:00 am opening. 2:00 am! Imagine that. I have so much respect for bakers, for being able to do this kind of work. Thanks to them, we get to have freshly baked bread early morning.
Even if I go to the bakery super early, it is not 100% sure that it is still hot when I buy it. Of course it was baked the same day, maybe just few hours ago. It made a lot difference when you got bread that is still hot from the oven. It is so soft and it smells so good. But my point is, I don’t think I will wake up that early to rush to bakery, so why not just make it at home? Homemade, the way I like it, and no preservatives added. Making homemade bread is not as scary as you think, give it a try and you might actually like the process. More than the bread itself, it feels very rewarding to be able to make your own bread at home.
What is the Difference Between All-Purpose Flour and Bread Flour?
The main difference between all-purpose-flour and bread flour lies in the percentage of protein present in the flour. Bread flour usually have between 11 – 13% protein as opposed to 9 – 11% for all-purpose flour. Most bread requires higher amounts of protein to produce lots of gluten, to give the bread structure. Gluten gives baked goods structure—the more gluten, the stronger the flour. This gives a more stable and chewy bread texture we all love in bread.
Types of Yeast
- Active Dry Yeast – This and the Instant Yeast are what I used in most of my bread. In terms of appearance and texture, this kind of yeast are coarser and have bigger granules. It requires to be dissolved in warm water with sugar to activate it. It normally takes 5-10 minutes to do this, and you will now that it’s been “awaken” when bubbles starts to form in the surface of the water, and you would be able to smell it too. This last longer in terms of shelf life and should be kept in a cool dry place. I kept mine in the refrigerator.
- Fast Acting or Instant Yeast – In terms of appearance, this kind of yeast have a finer granules as compared to active dry yeast. This does not require to be dissolved in warm water and sugar. This can be mixed directly with the dry ingredients such as flour, just make sure to keep it away from salt when you mix it as salt can kill the yeast when they touch directly with each other. I normally mix the flour, salt and leavener then I add the instant yeast last. This should also be kept in cool and dry place. You basically save 10 minutes of time when you use instant active yeast as you skip the activation process.
You can interchange active yeast and instant yeast in the recipe, I sometimes do this when I have the other and the recipe calls for the other. You just have to be mindful of the measurement. For dry active yeast you generally need to use half the quantity of fresh yeast stated in the recipe and for instant yeast you need to use 1/4 of the quantity of fresh yeast. The fresh yeast has higher measurement, followed by active yeast, then instant yeast. Let’s say the recipe calls for 30g (1 ounce) of fresh yeast, you can substitute it with 15g (.5 ounce) active dry yeast, or 7g(.25 ounce) instant yeast. Just don’t forget the when you substitute instant yeast with dry active yeast, you have to dissolve it first in warm water to activated it. Do not just mix it along with other dry ingredients unless specified in the recipe.
Tips for a Successful Soft Homemade Bread
- Liquid Temperature – Yeast grows in temperature between 105 – 110F, so its important to have the water that you are using to “proof” it in this range. If you go lower or higher, the yeast might not proof properly. That means the bread will not rise as much, resulting to a flat and tough bread.
- Check Yeast Expiry a Date – you might be wondering how come the bread did not rise when you followed exactly the recipe. Well, first thing first, make sure the yeast is not yet expired. Expired yeast is the common reason for flat and dense bread. If your bread did not expand or rise during the rest period, it is most likely that the yeast is not fresh or the water temperature is too hot or cold.
- Amount of Yeast – Just because you want a tall bread doesn’t mean you have to put as much yeast in the mixture. Sometimes adding too much yeast can cause the bread to collapse during the rest period. Just imagine putting more air than what is needed in a balloon, the balloon will explode. The same case with bread.
- Right Type of Yeast – We’ve discussed the 3 types of yeast above. Make sure to use the right one for your recipe, and make necessary adjustments if you want to swap one from another.
- Rest Period – Yeast bread needs time to rise. There are bread that uses less yeast but requires more rest time, the likes of No Knead Bread or Artisan Bread which usually require 8- 16 hours rest period to get the volume and to develop the flavor. The point is, give it time to rest, don’t touch it just leave it in a warm place. The first rest period will normally tell you if your dough is good or not. If it rise and almost double in size, then your on the right track.
- Expiration and Quality of the Flour – The quality of the flour greatly affect the texture of the bread. Bread flour could differ from country to country although they are all called as bread flour. Sometimes it depends on the brand too. The closer the flour to expiration date or if it is already expired, the flour could tend to be drier, which means it would require more liquid than mentioned in the recipe. This is a common issue of way sometimes the dough tend to be tough and dry. This is why sometimes you have to add few more tablespoon from the suggested flour measurement to get the right texture. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour until it is no longer to sticky to handle. If it is too dry, a small amount of liquid helps provide moisture to the dough. A clean side of the bowl, with the dough slightly sticking at the bottom, a soft, smooth and elastic dough is what You are aiming for.
How Do I Know if I Made the Bread Dough Correctly?
This is not written on the stone, but so far this is how I check if I am on the right track when it comes to the dough.
- Activating the Yeast – This is the first thing that you should get right, otherwise do NOT proceed. After 5 – 10 minutes you should see a foam forms on top of the water, this is an indication that the yeast is alive. If you do not get this, either the yeast is old or the liquid temperature is too hot or cold. The temperature should be 100F, lukewarm but not hot.
- Clean Bowl After Kneading – The sides of the bowl should be clean, while the bottom is slightly sticking to the dough. This means that amount of liquid to the flour is correct. Enough to make a clean bowl and still make a slightly wet dough.
- Soft Dough – Soft dough means the amount of flour to liquid is enough. Too much flour could make the bread dense and heavy, and too much liquid could make it too wet. Both will affect how the bread rise in the rest period. Try to push your fingers in the dough, it should leave a “dimple” on the dough and should gradually disappear.
- Smooth Dough Surface – Again, this is a sign of correct flour to liquid ratio. A “bumpy” surface could mean that the dough is dry and tough.
- Elastic Dough – A soft dough is usually elastic. If your dough is dry and tough, it wouldn’t be as elastic when you pull it apart.
- First Rest Period – The dough should almost double in size. This is a sign that the activation of the yeast work which is crucial to making a soft and fluffy bread. This also means the yeast is alive (not yet expired) and the liquid temperature is correct. I always use baking thermometer to check the temperature of the liquid.
- Second Rest Period – The bread dough should be really puff up and should fill in the gaps between each bread. This is crucial and the final state of the bread before baking. If you are able to make it puff-up, that is a good sign that there are air trapped inside which will make the bread fluffy.
Why is My Dough too Wet or too Dry?
Don’t get frustrated if your dough did not turn out immediately as what you see in the photo or video. Most likely It is not because you did not follow the recipe. When it comes to bread making, the amount of flour and liquid is not always 100% precise. This is way often times you will encounter recipes that says, if your dough is dry, add a bit more liquid. If your dough is too wet, add a little bit more flour. This instructions are not meant to confuse you, they are meant to guide you on how to adjust as you work through your dough. The reason for this is that although the measurement of water and flour are specified in the recipe, it still could slightly vary depending on many factors. For instance, all-purpose flour could very from country to country, or even from brand to brand. Don’t be surprise if you find that some brand tends to require a bit more liquid as the others. On top of this, the amount of liquid is also affected by the state of your flour. How old is the flour that you are using? Older flour nearing expiry tends to be drier and this requires more liquid. Bread making requires patience, and practice. Once you learn how to feel the right texture of the dough, everything will be quick and easy. You can instantly tell if you need to add more water or flour o get the dough in right state.
- 1/2 cup lukewarm Water (110F) – ( If you do not have thermometer, get hot tap water and microwave it for 15 seconds).
- 2 1/2 tablespoon granulated White Sugar (Divided: 1/2 tsp for yeast, the rest for flour)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil or any Flavorless Oil
- 4 tablespoon Milk lukewarm (110F) – If you do not have a thermometer, microwave the milk for 25 seconds
- 1 1/2 cups Bread Flour (Using bread flour makes a lot of difference because it is high in gluten. The texture will be different when you use all-purpose flour, although it will still be good.
- 3/4 teaspoon table Salt
- 2 tablespoon fine powder Parmesan Cheese
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 cloves Garlic – minced
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (or any herbs you have like Basil, Oregano,Thyme, Rosemary etc.)
Note: If you do not have a stand mixer, manually mix the dough until cohesive and smooth and it can form into a ball. It might take a little bit longer but it is doable.
- Activate the Yeast: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, add water and sugar then manually stir until sugar slowly dissolve. Add the yeast and let stand for 10 minutes until it starts to foam. Add the olive oil and milk to the water and stir.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Add the salt and bread flour. Using the stand mixer (or hand mixer with dough attachment), mix until ingredients are combined and knead for around 15 minutes. If the dough is still sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it becomes cohesive and smooth while the dough still slightly stick at the bottom of the mixer. Texture of flour could vary depending on various factors. Too much flour could make the bread tough, just add a little bit more are needed. If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of warm milk until it becomes smooth. Your goal is to have a smooth, soft and elastic bread dough.
- Rest: Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. It is best to let the dough rise in a warmer area of your kitchen.
- Tip: To help the dough rise well, put it inside the oven pre-heated to 110F. Once it reached the 110F, turn it OFF. DO NOT forget to turn it OFF, you only want the oven to warm up for the dough to rise, you do not want to dough to be baked. Some oven has a proofing setting, mine doesn’t, so this is my trick.
- Divide and Shape: Transfer dough in a floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. This short resting period will make the dough easier to roll and shape. Roll it lengthwise like a rope about 10-inch then tie to make a knot. I used kitchen weighing scale, but you can just eye-ball it.
- Prepare the Garlic Butter: In a small bowl, transfer the minced garlic, butter, olive oil and Italian seasoning. Microwave about 30 seconds or until the butter is fully melted. You can also melt it in the stove top.
Can I Use All-Purpose Flour Instead of Bread Flour?
Yes. in general, all-purpose flour can be substituted in most type of flour, it will not produce the exact same texture and chewiness, but it is good enough. In fact, more than chewy, it will be softer and fluffier which is again not bad at all.
Makes 6 pieces
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